By Syed Mustafa Ahmad
The importance of education cannot be underestimated. It is important for both a boy and a girl to gain knowledge. It is a universal fact that nations which invest in education, gain in every field. China is an example of this. Sadly, a developing country like India is not a good example of this kind of mindset. In India, there are a lot of boys and girls who are out of schools. No one is serious to bring them back into classrooms. In the same vein, in the UT of Jammu and Kashmir, there are many boys and girls who are still out of schools.
Some are doing petty jobs while some are helping their family members in daily chores. In this case, our village, Hajibagh has set an example. Hajibagh falls in central Kashmir’s Budgam district. At our village, parents teach their female kids with great devotion till they matriculate or pass the higher secondary level. But after that, there is a total change in mindset towards girls. Suddenly, some parents are not interested in teaching them. They have fears of their own and their fears are genuine. But this is true for every parent. Reaching this stage, however, has taken a lot of time. But why have we reached this stage? What are the causes responsible for this?
The first and foremost cause responsible for this is that the majority of people in our village are illiterate. They themselves have not been to schools. They feel that it is the wastage of time to send children to schools, particularly the girls. In reality, it is not their fault. They belong to poor families. They were denied education due to poverty. Their desires were shattered. In the same vein, they think that their children won’t do anything good. They don’t believe that there will be a change in the environment if their children and especially girls are educated.
Secondly, the former teenage girls have not done something remarkable in their academic careers. They simply qualified the Class 10 or Class 12 examinations, but got nothing substantial to achieve on the intellectual level. They are as good as illiterate girls. They only have some paper degrees that sets them apart from others. In this situation, parents feel that there is no point in wasting money and time on them.
Thirdly, our education system is not compatible with modern age. Moreover, it never differentiates between two students. Individual differences are not taken into account in our education system. The same kind of knowledge is imparted to psychologically different students. In this atmosphere, the majority of students feel suffocated. Their curiosities are never listened. Their innovative concepts have no customers. They want to change the status quo but when the opposite takes place, they feel neglected and stop learning. However, they learn in their own domains but in the eyes of the world, they are good for nothing.
Fourthly, imitation is on the rise. A girl imitates another girl in the majority of things. If a girl is forced to leave her education, another girl also follows her. In this way, a chain of quitting education is formed in the society and the result is destruction.
Fifthly, this world is temporary. Education has been differentiated on the basis of worldly and religious lines. But I think knowledge is knowledge. It is up to us how we impart it and how we make it cohesive. Dividing knowledge into these narrow groups is not a good idea at all. The consequence of this mindset is that a girl prepares herself for the next world. She loses touch with the present world. She finds herself in her own paradise. This attitude is very harmful and has harmed our village a lot.
“In our village in Budgam, parents teach their female kids with great devotion till they matriculate or pass the higher secondary level. But after that, there is a total change in mindset”
Lastly, we waste our resources on futile activities. We love religiosity. In case of Muslims, performing Hajj or the annual pilgrimage to Makkah is obligatory once in a life. But what is the need of performing the lesser pilgrimages frequently? Instead, this money should be utilised in teaching the orphans, the girls, the disadvantaged, etc. In the same vein, we love customs and rituals. Well, it is necessary to preserve one’s culture but it doesn’t mean that we waste our resources on following wrong rituals. We can save time and money if we leave the useless rituals. The money spent here can be utilised in creating a good society.
Saving these underprivileged girls from destruction should be the priority of everyone. They belong to us. We have to come forward to help them. We can save them. But it needs a well-planned approach. It will take time but we will win at the end of the day. Hope good sense prevails.